Written by: Simonette Berry
The lighting industry is undergoing radical changes with the dawn of the green movement. In south Louisiana, a region not often thought of as a frontrunner in green technologies, Valley Supply in Houma has been sewing these seeds of change for years. Owner Cecil Zeringue, whose family has run Valley Supply for over 30 years, says he remembers customers requesting “long life bulbs” ages ago. “It used to be that the typical customer would walk into our store and ask George Chaisson for our long life 130v bulbs. They were known to live through power surges and last quite a bit longer than the 120v bulbs. I used to get a big kick out of these conversations, especially when they were in Louisiana French!”
The seeds of change were planted with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which contained, in part, energy saving standards and requirements aimed to move the country towards more energy efficient lighting. The intent was to shift the nation’s focus away from inexpensive, fuel-hungry, standard incandescent light bulbs that use only the basic technology invented by Thomas Edison over 130 years ago. The shift prompted manufacturers, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, to increase research and development for more energy efficient lighting technologies. LED (Light Emitting Diode), OLED (Organic LED), CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), Halogen, and Cold-Cathode light bulbs are not necessarily new inventions, but these technologies have now become more affordable and available. “Embracing these new technologies has allowed consumers to save on maintenance cost, conserve energy, and have a wider pool of options to choose from,” says Zeringue. “It’s revealed some pretty cool lighting strategies and created real ingenuity in the marketplace.” “There are so many different manufacturers throwing their hats into the LED ring,” he says. “It’s kept us very busy lately on the research front. We have several customers, business owners and electricians, who are pretty hip on the LED potential. They’re always stopping by to learn about the hottest new technology and give us feedback. So, we have to stay on the cutting edge.”
“We are also seeing many customers in Terrebonne and Lafourche who really want to change the way they consume energy. Our community was hit hard by the oil spill, and in many ways I think everyone here wants to do their part, no matter how small that might be. â€˜How can we save money? Could we reduce our energy usage? Do we really have energy efficient options that make sense now?’ That’s what we’re all saying these days.”
“We are continually field testing, learning, listening, and seeking out the right products for our customers and the trade-offs that occur between the different technologies and manufacturers. It is easy to make this complicated, because the new variables and choices in lighting have suddenly increased tenfold,” said Zeringue.
“We’ve had to learn a whole new language at Valley Supply to communicate with customers and distributors about things such as Kelvin temperature (whiteness of the light source), lumens per watt (amount of light per energy usage), CRI (Color Rendering Index; a fancy way of factoring the depth of color upon an object when illuminated), and the multiplicity of shadows created by the number of LED sources from a single light bulb. It can really push us at times, but it’s fun to learn,” says Zeringue.
“LEDs have been getting much of the press and excitement in our world, but they’re not the answer for every application and every customerâ€¦at least for awhile. I’m seeing some interesting lower cost solutions with TCP’s Infrared Reflective Coated Halogen bulbs and their shatterproof armor coated Insta-bright dimmable CFLs. They have great potential as well. So far this year, LED bulbs have taken off in the task lighting arena, with applications such as under-counter and cove lighting applications. LED landscape lighting and recessed down lights have also been in high demand. RAB Lighting has a great, affordable 20-watt wall pack that has become pretty popular as well.”
“The quality and right amount of light is very important to us and our customers. I don’t know anyone who enjoys climbing up a ladder on a consistent basis,” he chuckles. “Sometimes, though, the less expensive standard incandescent can still be the better overall option. It really depends upon what is most important to the customer in their application,” Zeringue explains.
Lighting isn’t the only area Valley Supply has updated. They also have a Facebook page, where Zeringue is constantly posting photos from their Lighting Market and demo videos. “It’s a great place to interact with our customers and share things with them that they wouldn’t normally get to see,” he says.
“Over the years, I’ve learned that many factors go into whether a new product or technology will succeed in our region: performance, compatibility, cost, quality, life-expectancy, and availability. I think it also depends on companies like us who actively listen to our customers and manufacturers to bridge the gap. That is our job. We enjoy what we do and we greatly appreciate the great people of this beautiful region. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from someone who was well served at Valley.”